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How SSS Pressured AIT owner Dokpesi, to Sack Gbenga Aruleba


All rumours have finally been laid to rest over the sack of Mr. Gbenga Aruleba the foremost presenter of a TV buster current affairs programme on AIT network, Focus Nigeria. For over a month now, the embattled presenter has been seen off the screen owing to the directives from the high echelon of State Security Service (SSS) who ordered his employer Chief Raymond Dokpesi (Chairman of Daar Communication) to immediately let him off screen or face 'grievous sanctions'. The ugly trend has generated a lot of concerns and anxiety to many media practitioners and also the viewing public within and outside the country.

Although different stories have been making the rounds in the past weeks about Aruleba, some even said the fearless and controversial TV presenter had gone into hiding, a version of the stories has it that he has been asked to proceed on a compulsory study-leave in an undisclosed location in Europe to allow tension to douse. A Daar communications source confirmed to as at press time that Aruleba is still a staff of AIT, he has been surreptiously moved to another office within their Abuja station. A new anchor has since been appointed to replace Aruleba, his name is Kunle Adewale; while he (Aruleba) who is at the centre of the storm has been redeployed and restricted to the news desk at the Abuja office.

Aruleba was believed to be an antagonist to of successive government in the country through his programme. Sources confirmed to that the SSS had many times confronted Dokpesi about negative disposition of Aruleba and the panellists on his programme. One of the reliable sources also confirmed that a certain anti-corruption agency in the country threatened to press corruption charges against the AIT owner if Aruleba was not removed and called to order. gathered that after series of confrontations with the security agencies, Dokpesi had to eventually give in. Dokpesi personally approached Aruleba and told him that his life was in danger, but the controversial presenter was said to have told his boss that he was only doing his job to the best of his ability. Later Dokpesi had to meet him again and this time, he told him it was not only his life that was at stake but also his own business. Focus Nigeria has become a popular programme on Nigeria TV especially among watchers of the political situation in the country and Aruleba's face had been seen synonymous with the programme. Over the years, his clout has expanded and he has been able to draw top qualities within the polity to appear on the programme.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed to that Chief Dokpesi said Aruleba's life was in danger from the hands of overzealous security operatives. Dokpesi was said to have been summoned by the national Security Adviser (NSA) who expressed President Yar'Adua's displeasure with what Aruleba was projecting to the world on the programme. It was also gathered that Dokpesi did not just remove Aruleba. He said that he (Aruleba) has been moved to the position of managing the radio department of DAAR Communication, but he will not present any programme on either AIT or the sister station Raypower FM. He has also been reportedly told to go on a 6 months course in London (UK). This position was however confirmed as efforts to reach Gbenga Aruleba's glo mobile line proves abortive.

Facts available to from an Aso Rock source said Dokpesi was myriad of problems, which makes him vulnerable to blackmail. Dokpesi was however clever. His DAAR Communication it was which that handled the TV broadcasting aspect of the just concluded FIFA U-17 world cup, held in Nigeria.

It would be recalled that Focus Nigeria was among prominent programmes that foiled the success of the third term bid in the Senate. The programme often x-ray the life telecast of the Senate's review of the 1999 constitution to get former President Olusegun Obasanjo the right to run for third term in office. It also allowed each Senator to be heard by their constituencies to know whether they represented them well, since voice vote was not adopted, by then Senate President Ken Nnamani. It was the manner that Aruleba conducted himself during these periods that subsequently led to his arrest and detention on Wednesday June 14th, 2006, over what the State Security Services (SSS) called Sedition. The arrest was made after showing on TV, on Tuesday (a day preceding his arrest), an interview in which former Senator Joseph Waku accused Obasanjo's government of wrong doing.

Also in the attack then was one Rotimi Durojaiye of the Daily Independent newspaper (an aviation correspondent) he and Gbenga Aruleba were in an Abuja Federal Court faced with six counts of working 'with intent to bring into hatred or contempt or excite disaffection against the person of the president'. Durojaiye had on 12 June published a report about the real age and cost of a presidential jet acquired for the former President Obasanjo in 2006. The following day Aruleba also made comments on the jet issue in his daily political talk show Focus Nigeria. After both reporters pleaded not guilty to the charges, Judge Babs Kuewumi ordered that they be held by the widely feared state security police, known as State Security Services (SSS), until conditions for bail are reviewed. Although the duo were eventually granted bail but the experiences they had while in captivity were reported not to be good at all.

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